The Diligence of a Christian
One of the things that really confronted me as I sought to give myself fully to God was the importance of diligence as a Christian. I don’t remember a time in my life when I did not believe in Christ. I was raised in the church, knew my Bible fairly well, and generally took it seriously. I really believed that it was true and believed that it would transform me. But I did not understand why I did not seem to see Him working in my life. I was not looking for miracles. I was just looking for peace and contentment in God. I seemed to be stagnant as a Christian. I would read David or Paul or Peter or any other figure of the Bible describe their deep love and satisfaction in God and think, “Why don’t I experience that?”
I saw how the Spirit of God in me was supposed to produce fruit. Galatians 5:22-23 states that this fruit is “love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”. It is not that I didn’t exhibit some of these things, but I would not have rated myself as particularly impressive in these categories. I was really concerned. I didn’t see how I could be in right relationship with God without these things and this scared me. I desperately wanted to see the transformation in me that so many people in the Bible experienced.
It was during this time that I started to notice something that seemed small at first but became the impetus for me changing my outlook. I started to notice that I bargained with what the Bible said in ways that seemed small but really weren’t. I cheapened its call on my life by seeking to make it convenient for me. I wanted to be transformed by the Word of God, but I read more sports articles most weeks than chapters in the Bible. I wanted to exhibit self-control and discipline, but I immersed myself in the latest technologies and internet services that were all designed to distract me from productive work. I wanted to think about good things (Phil 4:8), but I loved watching TV shows like Breaking Bad that glorified (and got me thinking about) evil things. In short, I was a typical American.
So, I decided one day to try to better understand the things the Bible called me to do and then do them completely. It was like an experiment. Not that I could be perfect at this, but I was going to try to be radical in doing exactly what it said as best I could. To get started, I already knew of some things that I needed to do that I had been avoiding, but I thought I really needed to read the Bible systematically if I was going to apply it well. I can’t do what it says unless I really know what it says. I planned to read through the whole Bible and read it daily. I didn’t want to miss things and I wanted it to be on my mind constantly. I talked with my pastor, found a program, and started building a habit of reading the Bible daily. I created a daily rhythm that I tried to not violate. I have always found that a repetitive daily schedule helps me find time to study things well and I tried to play to my strengths in studying the Bible.
As I read my Bible more faithfully and systematically, I started to see the way the Bible emphasizes important themes. Some of those themes were things that I was already fully aware of, but I was very excited to see that some of the themes were surprises. The Bible was more balanced than I had noticed before. Jesus was much more impressive and unique, God was more holy and just, the greatest miracles are spiritual and still happen today, Paul was more compassionate and thoughtful, Peter was stronger, the prophets loved and sacrificed for the people they were confronting, and David really did love God and pursue Him in a special way.
Diligence in pursuing God is a theme throughout Scripture. David was a man after God’s own heart implying that he continually sought to follow after God’s heart (Acts 13:22). Paul says to be transformed by the renewing your mind (Romans 12:2). John the Baptist says to bear fruit in keeping with repentance (Luke 3:8). Matthew summarizes Jesus teaching as: “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17) The word ‘repent’ means to change, conform, or transform your mind. All of these verses point to a way of life that involves changing the way we think. Our minds need to be taught to follow and fear God. It is not natural and it takes diligence, perseverance, and practice. It is through faith that we are saved, and it is because of this faith that we gratefully seek to please God through transforming the way we think from the natural sinful thinking that is common to all mankind to the unnatural but healing thinking that is from God (Ephesians 4:17-24, Hebrews 11:6). We have to push through with diligence if we want to receive the rewards described in Scripture of the fruit of the Spirit and the joy that comes with it. I have found this to be true and continue to find it to be true.
Diligence in all work is also pleasing to the Lord. Proverbs says that the soul of the diligent is richly supplied (13:4), there is profit in all work (14:23), and those who are good stewards will have what he needs (28:19). Genesis 2:15 states that God put Adam in the garden to work. Work alone is obedience to God and should be a way of life. We don’t work to finish all our work, but we instead work to enjoy it because God made us for it. We are all given work and it is not just reading our Bibles and telling people about Christ that is the work of the Lord. Work is service to others and obedience to God and should be done with diligence even if it is not a ministry (Ephesians 6:5-8).
From these two points, I have made diligence in all that I do a priority in my life. It is not that I am now perfect in this area, I still have my disaster days, but it is a constant concern of mine. I pray for it, measure myself in it, set daily goals, and actively strive to grow in diligence. I have found it very rewarding and essential in growing in the Lord. Diligence is essential if you want to receive the blessing of the sanctification of God.
Are you diligent? What are ways you can be more diligent?
Justin is a friend of The Bridge Montrose.